2012-2013 Fellowship Summary
The PreProBono Fellowship is made possible with the generous support of
The Borgenicht Foundation
With additional support from
Nuclear Relativity F
The PreProBono Team expresses special thanks to the Fordham University Graduate Social of Social Service for hosting the 2013 Fellowship.
“I’ve recognized the power of a legal education to bring justice to the oppressed and want to fight for those whose rights have been violated.” LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score:
Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
34 88 54
Law Schools Admissions: Fordham Law School (Stein Scholar) Brooklyn Law School (Full Scholarship) St. John’s Law School (Full Scholarship) Cardozo Law School (70% Scholarship)
PreProBono Fellow Amanda Goodwin has been accepted to Fordham University School of Law and plans to pursue a career in criminal law. She graduated valedictorian from Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, with a minor in African American Studies. Previously, Ms. Goodwin was a soloist with the Miami City Ballet and an ambassador for Stop Child Trafficking Now, a non-profit centered on anti-human trafficking work. She has also worked for Nomi Network, International Justice Mission, and “414,” a youth center for inner city teenagers.
Dami “My drive and desire to succeed comes from the realization that I can do some good in this world, and I’m working to see that through.” LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score:
Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
67 96 29
Law Schools Admissions: Harvard Law School UCLA Law School (Dean’s Professional Full Scholarship)
PreProBono Fellow Dami Animashaun is a recent graduate of Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey. He was born in London, grew up in Nigeria with his parents, and has lived in the United States for the past 15 years. His parents and other family members always say (i.e. complain) that he likes to argue, so he should be a lawyer. He has taken this to heart and is now well on his way. He first met the PreProBono team over a year ago as a student at one of the weekend programs, becoming a Fellow in the summer of 2012, and now he is currently coordinating the 2013 Fellowship Program. Dami will be attending Harvard Law School in the fall and plans to use his law degree to help those less fortunate.
Elisa “I hope to affect change by empowering individuals, one at a time.”
LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score: Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
154 157 60 70 10
Law Schools Admissions: Brooklyn Law School Cardozo Law School
PreProBono Fellow Elisa Zheng will be attending Brooklyn Law School in the fall; prior to the fellowship she studied Philosophy and Political Science at Barnard College. While in college, she interned and volunteered for several non-profit organizations including The New York Asian Women’s Center and the Columbia-Barnard Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center. She hopes to use her J.D. to help and empower women.
“I want to help give women and other oppressed groups equal access to bodily integrity, economic security, and civil/political rights.”
LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score:
Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
64 96 32
Law Schools Admissions: Georgetown Law School Cornell Law School Fordham Law School ($25K/yr) CUNY Law School (Full Scholarship +$10K/yr)
PreProBono Fellow Jennifer Lee has been accepted to and plans to attend Fordham Law school. After law school, she plans to pursue a career in government. Her non-profit experience at the Welfare Rights Initiative, an organization that aims to broaden access to higher education to all, pressed upon her the advantages of having a law degree and legal experience in the non-profit field, for both the organization and the clients being served. Jennifer has since then graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Hunter College, and has spent her last semester of college and summer studying in Paris and traveling through Europe.
“My dream is to fight for those who are not in the strongest position to fight for themselves.” LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score:
Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
34 83 53
Law Schools Admissions: UC Hastings Law School
PreProBono Fellow Julian Sarkar has been accepted to the UC Hastings Class of 2016 and plans on pursuing a career in public-interest law. Prior to his law school journey, Sarkar served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years and subsequently obtained his bacherlor’s degree in Government and English from Dartmouth College. He has worked in the legal non-profit industry at the Legal Aid Society of D.C. and Swords to Plowshares.
â€œI want to help those that may not be able to have a voice otherwise.â€? LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score: Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
157 178 71 99 28
Law Schools Admissions: Fordham Law School ($30K/yr) William & Mary Law School ($10K/yr)
PreProBono Fellow Justin Giles graduated from the College of Staten Island with a Bachelors in English Writing in 2012. He is a 2012 PreProBono Fellow interested in working in Criminal Justice. He will be attending Fordham Law in the fall. This summer, he is utterly delighted to have the privilege of being an instructor for the 2013 PreProBono Fellowship.
Katherine â€œThe voices of those who lack the means to attain proper representation has been ignored for too long. I want to provide these people with the representation they deserve.â€? Final LSAT Pending
PreProBono Fellow Katherine Morales is a senior at Pace University, where she is majoring in Finance with a minor in Economics. Although she enjoying tutoring students in mathematics at Pace University, she is excited to put her love for statistics behind her in order to attend law school in 2014 with the help of PreProBono. In law school she hopes to develop the resources she needs in order to serve underrepresented communities.
â€œThe voiceless often have the most to contribute to society and through law I wish to be the one to enable and empower them to be the change they have needed.â€? Final LSAT Pending
As a Muslim Pakistani American born and raised in Westchester, New York, PreProBono Fellow Mayha grew up exposed to different thoughts, ideas, ways of living and freedoms. She has lived an indisputably privileged life compared to many of her cousins abroad and it is that privilege, being exposed to those less fortunate, and her religion that have driven her to pursue public interest law. This interest began while she was very young and to her pleasure she found that she really loved learning about law and saw the potential that it had to change lives and help people for the better. While growing up in a post 9/11 New York as a Muslim has not easy, Mayha learned to speak up for herself and found that her voice is strongest while raising awareness of Human Rights violations. Mayha has worked for her local Congresswoman, Amnesty International, her family business, as a volunteer teacher, and it is a combination of these things that have reinforced her love of people and her firm belief that Human Rights are indeed a right, not a privilege.
“I hope to someday help enact laws that protect the socio-economic diversity of the city I love and have had the privilege of living in my whole life.” LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score: Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
147 162 34 86 52
Law Schools Admissions: Berkeley Law School ($20K/yr) Boston University Law School ($30K/yr) Brooklyn Law School (Full Scholarship)
PreProBono Fellow Michelle Cafarelli has been accepted into the Boalt Hall- UC Berkeley Class of 2016, where she is excited to continue her education within the public school system. Prior to law school, she received her bachelor’s degree in English at Hunter College of the City University of New York. While at Hunter Michelle also worked as a leasing agent in Manhattan’s Financial District. In law school Michelle plans to continue to explore her interests in housing policy and real estate law. She plans to eventually use her JD to counteract laws that jeopardize New York City’s socio-economic diversity.
“I am passionate about building a fairer criminal justice system.” LSAT Diagnostic: Final LSAT Score: Diagnostic Percentile: Final Percentile: Percentile Increase:
148 162 36 86 50
Law Schools Admissions: NYU Law School (30K/yr) UVA Law School (15K/yr) Michigan Law School (34K/yr)
PreProBono Fellow Samuel Edandison is entering University of Michigan Law School in the fall and hopes to become a federal prosecutor after law school, and possibly enter politics afterwards. A native of the Bronx, Sam graduated from Dartmouth College in 2010, majoring in Government. After college Sam worked for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for more than a year. After the District Attorney’s Office, Sam worked for Kenyon and Kenyon, an intellectual property boutique law firm, for a little over a year. After 3 years in the work place, Sam is anxious to go back to school and can’t stop shouting “GO BLUE!”
Featured Personal Statement Dami Animashaun (Page 1 of 2)
Even in her time of despair, she first thought of us. My mother pled for only one thing: that they wait until she got in the car before they put on the handcuffs. She didn’t want her sons to see. I was eleven years old when a routine trip to the grocery store ended with me sitting on a sidewalk watching as my mother was driven away in the back of a police car. I saw her pulled over, interrogated, and then removed. I was too young to comprehend. Had my mother committed a crime? Has she done something wrong? She was taken to a holding center and then detained, first in New Jersey, and then in different states. Over the next few months, she called me from various detention centers to reassure me that she was fine and wasn’t being treated poorly. She was then deported back to Nigeria for being in the country illegally. That summer day was the last time I would see my mother for four years. My parents brought me to this country from Lagos, Nigeria when I was six years old. They spoke of opportunity and hope, the American dream. But not until my mother was forced to leave did I become aware of what it meant to be undocumented. Living without status here meant that we could not register for basic entitlements. I was fourteen when my father had to explain why my older brother would not be eligible for a driver’s permit. The realization that I had been brought illegally to the United States came as a shock. I lived in constant terror of what my precarious situation might lead to, and I felt angry that I had been unwillingly put in this situation. Everything felt futile when my very presence here was so fraught with danger and uncertainty. I began getting in trouble in and out of school, staying out late in rough neighborhoods of Newark and fraternizing with high school friends who were gang members and drug dealers. I graduated high school ranked 114 in a class of 127 students – a just result for someone who didn’t own or use a backpack. Somewhere along the way, in spite of these impediments, I received a lifeline. I became a Dreamer, and that saved me. I saw that there were others like me who bore the same cross, yet were able to persevere in spite of their hardships. I realized that my high school friends – all bent on a lifetime of rebellion - lacked something which I had all along: the hope of an immigrant and the support of a hardworking, determined father. I dedicated myself to making amends and seizing the prospects I still had. As a way to defy my setbacks and achieve something, I enrolled in college. Even though I wasn’t allowed to receive government assistance, I decided to work through school as a golf caddy and doing odd jobs. Paying my term bill in cash for the first few years helped me to understand that I was making an investment in myself and that I needed to maximize return. Being average was no longer good enough.
Featured Personal Statement Dami Animashaun (Page 2 of 2)
Graduating from college with honors was one of the most gratifying and emotional moments in my life. Just a few years earlier, that outcome seemed remote. My journey involved recognizing that even though my parents had forced me to live in the shadows of society, that their values were no less important or real. I learned to come to terms both with the choices that they made for us as a family, as well as the ones for which I would be solely responsible. Though my parents weren’t especially well educated they understood the power of education and its transformative ability. In college, I was moved by Thoreau’s writing on self-sufficiency and transcendence, and Malcolm X’s analysis of the cyclical nature of inner city poverty. These books helped me to become a different person. Even as my aspirations grew, I continued to volunteer as a basketball and football coach in Union and New Brunswick, as a way of giving back to youth in situations of poverty and neglect. The memory of where I came from will always be a profound part of my life. These cumulative experiences have developed my interest in the law. As an undocumented immigrant who grew up in the ghettos of Newark, my contact with the law has not always been positive. The most terrifying moment of my life was when – as a teenager – I was randomly stopped by police officers in Newark and asked for identification and my social security number. At that moment I felt sure that I would be deported like my mother. But the same laws that once felt oppressive have also afforded me the chance to turn my life around in the form of the Dream Act. The Dream Act and Deferred Action policy gave me the ability to legitimize my status in the United States after years of hiding in the shadows. My firsthand knowledge that the law can intervene in people’s lives, both to devastate but also to humanize and offer reprieve, motivates me to use the law as a powerful force for change. My father used to always preach to me about interdependence and how no man is an island. I intend to use my legal education to give back to the inner city from which I escaped, and to repay my obligations to the nation that has rewarded me with shelter and opportunity.
Featured Personal Statement Michelle Carafelli (Page 1 of 2)
Thirty stories high in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District, I had a bird’s eye view of New York City from downtown to the East River and Brooklyn. As a leasing agent, I had access to this panoramic view on a regular basis. It was my job to shepherd potential renters through the building and admire the cityscape from the roof deck. One day, a prospective tenant asked what the tall buildings were that obstructed our view of the East River. When I responded that those buildings were affordable housing, he responded, “What a waste of real estate.” I knew he didn’t mean to offend me, but I took his comment to heart. Did the poor not deserve this view? Did he think that just because I was wearing business attire that I shared his scorn? On that day, I felt a strange combination of quiet anger combined with invisibility. It was then that I remembered the fleeting moment when my father and I drove past his childhood home and he pointed out the windows of the small apartment in the Eastchester Gardens Housing Development of the Bronx. Although I did not grow up in the projects, our family lived in a rent-stabilized apartment in a neighborhood full of the same tower blocks that stood by the East River. From the time that I was a teenager, I worked alongside New York City’s wealthiest, first as a hostess doing coat check for upscale venues, and then leasing luxury apartments in downtown Manhattan. Yet I knew that I was not one of them. As a college student, I commuted between Hunter College on the Upper East Side and my small family apartment in Queens. It struck me that the essence of New York’s diversity lay in this range between the rich and poor. Early on, I became an observer who lives somewhere between the two starkly different realities: the New York of the polished and well-educated, who are bred with a sense of entitlement, and the working-class New York of my childhood. The bridge between these two worlds seemed to be education, considered by many to be “the great equalizer” of class difference. Although I felt fortunate for my education, I became preoccupied in college with how opportunity is distributed unequally. The way that socioeconomic status impacts an individual’s opportunities began to unfold during the fall semester of my sophomore year. A course I was taking called Anthropology of Race culminated in a lengthy research paper in which I compared the learning environments of an elementary school in the South Bronx and another in Port Washington, a historically affluent neighborhood on the North Shore of Long Island. I interviewed a teacher who had taught at both schools and found that the school in the Bronx received significantly less funding than the one in Port Washington. As a result, the students in
Featured Personal Statement Michelle Carafelli (Page 2 of 2)
the Bronx - many of whom had difficult situations at home - had the odds stacked against them. Lack of funding compounded by domestic problems meant that Bronx students did not perform as well. More subtle patterns reinforced the cycle. Qualified teachers left to take jobs elsewhere, where the schools had more resources or were located in better neighborhoods, resulting in younger and less-qualified teachers being hired in these already lower performing schools. It is a problem that sustains a location-based distribution of opportunities in New York and widens the education gap even further. Though socioeconomic class divisions are powerful predictors, it is possible — given luck and talent, to overcome them. At some level, I know I am an example of that transcendence. When I join my brother and sister as first-generation college graduates this May, I will have transcended a barrier of my socioeconomic class, much as my father did, when he left the “Projects” behind. Although in a way, I have had to experience a harder life, it is precisely these experiences that have made me reflect more deeply on the role of education and housing laws in our society. Were it not for rent-stabilization, our family would have been evicted a long time ago in the course of our financial struggles. Seeing how certain laws have directly impacted my family’s well-being informs my understanding of how they function within the larger society. I am interested in how the law sets into motion the policies that protect or undermine socio-economic diversity. Growing up in the densely populated city of New York has forced me to confront and care about class and racial inequalities. I hope that law school will equip me with the ability to combat some of these entrenched patterns of unequal opportunity, and to assume the role of an actor rather than an observer.
Featured Personal Statement Sam Edandison (Page 1 of 2)
You would be surprised how much a corpse smells after it has been in the sun for several days. It stinks. It stinks to look at. It stinks to remember. I was born and raised in southern Nigeria in the 1990s, when it was not uncommon to see dead bodies on the street, left to rot until the police or family members of the dead person came to pick up the body. My family was then living in a small city called Aba. One day, when I was eight years old, I had an inexplicable urge to look at one of the bodies, left out in the middle of the street. The vultures got there before me so I gabbed a stick and chased them away. Covering my nose, I was aghast to see a face I knew. It belonged to a boy who tended a meat shop in the main flea market. I remembered him because although he was very poor - he slept in the shop - he was one of those market people you can rely on, one who never tried to cheat you. I went to a street vendor nearby to ask what he did to end up dead on the street. The vendor told me he was one of robbers who tried to rob a wealthy man a week before. The boy was then caught and killed by vigilantes. No trial. Just death. The bodies on the streets of Aba were supposed to serve as a deterrent to would-be robbers, to warn them that the community will not take it anymore. Judging by the amount of bodies, the supposed robbers didn’t get the message. In Aba, robberies were an epidemic. They were usually staged by a group of 10-25 men who would come to a rich person’s home at night. People knew that the robbers themselves at times received weapons from the police: in turn, they gave the police a share of whatever they got from the job. Investigations were announced but never conducted. It wasn’t a matter of whether a well-off person will be robbed but a matter of when. The lack of action by the police led to vigilantism, wherein young men who themselves were no better than the robbers would patrol neighborhoods. If the robbers were caught, they were instantly executed. Of course, there were laws against robbery, laws against vigilantism, and laws against murder. But the disparity between the law as stated and justice as it is practiced was glaring—glaring as the faces that belong to the dead bodies on the streets of Aba. A few months after this incident, my family traded the dirt, trashfilled, streets of Aba for the hard, concrete streets of the South Bronx. You would think the disparity between law and justice didn’t exist in America. For Nigerians, America was better than heaven. “If I die,” they’d say, “I’d rather go to America than to heaven.” The reality I witnessed was far from heaven. I finished elementary school and middle school in the South Bronx with all the accompanying negativity you might expect from living in a one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country: police in my school, police in my building, police arresting my father, police detaining my brothers, police arresting and detaining my classmates. I thought such things were normal until I had a chance to leave the Bronx, and realize it need not be. In high school, I had the opportunity to leave my neighborhood for a suburban high school in Madison, Connecticut,
Featured Personal Statement Sam Edandison (Page 2 of 2)
through a program called A Better Chance (ABC). ABC takes kids from low perforining schools, mostly from the inner city and rural areas, and places them in boarding schools, private schools or top performing public schools. I was selected for the ABC program and lived in Madison for four years, attending the local public school. Living elsewhere made me see the inconsistency with which law is applied in America. What can ruin a child’s life in the Bronx will do nothing to him in Madison. In the Bronx, the police will arrest teenagers caught drinking; in Madison the police will drive them home to make sure that no one gets hurt. In the Bronx, the police will detain a group of teenage boys hanging around; in Madison, the police will converse and give them advice. In the Bronx, the police wait for kids to get in trouble; in Madison, the police go out of there way, overlooking the law at times, to keep kids out of trouble — as one policeman once told me, after all, “they’re our kids.” Indeed, they’re our kids. But we need not have such a disparity in the way the law is applied. The differences between the poor and the wealthy was made apparent to me again when I returned home after graduating from Dartmouth and worked briefly for the District Attorney’s office in the Bronx. There I saw firsthand the criminalization of poverty and race: homeless people getting arrested for loitering, countless stops and frisks by the New York Police Department without basis. The degree of open corruption and violence is obviously not the same in the United States as it is in Nigeria. However, the injustices I have seen as an adult in America continue to haunt me as much as that dead body I saw as a boy in Nigeria. I am fortunate to have experienced two very different types of America: the world of Dartmouth and suburban Connecticut and the streets of South Bronx. I am also blessed to have grown up in two sides of Nigeria: one side where cheating on one another is a way of life and another where there is immense kindness, with neighbors and community members looking out for each other. Having lived in the worlds of both the very rich and the very poor, and having seen people suffer – my family included – has made me understand how and why violence occurs. I now understand that the problems I have witnessed firsthand affect human societies universally. It is the excesses of power that enables the police to act with impunity, dishing out discriminatory justice to those who caimot afford protection. These experiences have forced me from early on to question how far I am willing to go and what I’m willing to do; they have helped me to persistently question right and wrong and to develop something close to moral clarity_ My experiences have given me the determination not only to be critical of societal wrongs, but to advocate for the things that are right. We should not live with these pervasive inequalities. We can give one another a better chance and extend the possibility of justice, even to the poor. I believe that law school will give me the tangible skills I need to make a difference.
Featured Diversity Statement Dami Animashaun I was born in London, England, to Nigerian parents who emigrated there in order to seek a better life. When I was two years old, my parents left for the United States and sent me to live with my relatives in Nigeria. I have vivid childhood memories of the chaotic street markets of Lagos and the school uniforms I wore in the early 1990s. Although petty crime and violence were a part of our daily existence, those were a happy few years. When the time came to leave, I wasn’t sad though, I imaged i was heading for paradise. By the time I was sent to join my parents in America, I could barely remember what they looked like. We had been separated for four years. My brother came with me, and we all lived together in a small one bedroom apartment in a high rise in Newark, New Jersey. America was like nothing I had imagined. The legendary marble roads, big buildings, fast cars were nowhere in sight. The streets were full of rampant crime and violence. My father’s used car was stolen so often that it became more a source of irritation than alarm. My initiation into America was hard and gradual. Although our neighborhood was full of African-Americans and Hispanics, our family socialized mainly with other Nigerian immigrants. I was teased throughout school for my Nigerian accent. It wasn’t until I joined the basketball and football team in high school that I began to befriend African-Americans, and it wasn’t until I began to work as a golf caddy that I had my first contact with upper-class white Americans. I have now lived in the United States for eighteen years. I consider myself to be an American, Nigerian, African-American, a bilingual immigrant, an urbanite, and much more. My background has given me a different perspective of the world. I am aware of the complex ways in which race, class, and citizenry overlap and inform each other. To be black in America is to be exposed to certain fundamental challenges, but being black here has also been my shield and protection. As a black youth, I always felt I could shun detection as an undocumented person and ironically blend in. I have also learned, as a black immigrant who was schooled alongside African-Americans, that there are historical legacies of oppression that unite and divide us. Because of my experiences, I have learned to see the humanity in everyone. I am proud to call myself a hyphenated American. Different in background and ethnicity, but joined in a common purpose and ideal, I can hold on to my roots while being a part of something greater. These values will enrich the diversity of the classrooms of which I am a part.
Featured Diversity Statement Michelle Carafelli Born in New York City to an Italian-American father and a Colombian mother, I carry along two distinct, yet not uncommon, stories of New York. My father was born and raised in the projects in Eastchester, Bronx by a second generation Italian-American father and Jewish mother. Like many immigrants of that time, they grew up in the tenements in Manhattan. After working in the navy during the Vietnam War, my father worked most of his life driving trucks and delivering packages for the United States Parcel Service. My mother emigrated from Colombia to the United States at the age of 18, before finishing high school. She spoke very little English and sometimes worked as a cleaner. Growing up, our family of five shared a rent-stabilized onebedroom apartment in Flushing, Queens, which we converted to a three-bedroom apartment by putting up walls. Iâ€™ve been living in the dining room-turned-bedroom my entire life. The apartment has served as a source of stability for me, as does my hometown Flushing. When I was 13 years old, I was selected to attend Townsend Harris High School, where about 5000 students from all over Queens and even some from Manhattan and Brooklyn applied for one of 250 seats. Only 6 people from my middle school class of over 300 students were chosen to attend Townsend on the basis of our grade point average. I was never pressed academically by my parents â€” one never finished high school and the other joined the navy right after high school, but I was aware that being selected for an excellent high school made a world of difference to my future. It opened up many doors that my classmates and best friends would never have. Remembering my modest roots has been a critical part of my education. The experience of class difference and the struggle for upward class mobility has defined both my personal and academic interests. The fact that I am among the first in my family to attend college and apply for graduate school has made the experience much more meaningful. My values are very much defined as those of a New Yorker. I have grown up in Queens, worked and studied in Manhattan, and volunteered for voter canvassing in Brooklyn. I have also researched educational policy in Long Island and the Bronx. The range of experiences I have come across in various boroughs of New York City capture the rich diversity of the world that I wish to be a part of. This diversity is a key part of who I am, and I am committed to preserving it both inside and outside of the classroom.
Featured Diversity Statement Sam Edandison As an immigrant to the U.S. from Nigeria, I have always been conscious of both racial and national differences. Growing up in the Bronx taught me what it meant to be African-American. Moving to Madison, Connecticut exposed me to black stereotypes. But more so than race, it was poverty that defined who I was. It didn’t quite hit me how poor I was until I got to college. I was lucky to go to a school like Dartmouth, which gave me generous scholarships and provided me low-interest loans. In college I wanted to tiy everything—rugby, fraternity, various clubs—if it stoked my interest I wanted to try it. The only caveat was that it cost a lot to participate in these things and my parents didn’t have much money for my books let alone for clubs. The dues for the rugby team were $400 every year, plus another $800-$1000 when the team went on tour. Every trimester, I would fret over how I was going to pay for my books, let alone my extracurricular activities. In the Bronx, everyone I knew lived paycheck-to-paycheck, if they were lucky to have a paycheck. My parents were no different. My dad was a livery cab-driver and my mom was cleaning lady at a hospital. Knowing their financial situation, I was extremely hesitant to ask them for money. So I worked two jobs, putting in 16-20 hours a week at libraries and at cafeterias, while also playing rugby - with rugby acting as a part time job itself. Playing rugby was how I met Taylor, a white kid from Minnesota who was also going through the same financial situation. We both worked so we could both play. Most of the rugby players received allowances of up to $2000 per term from their parents. It was strange to see a white kid like Taylor having to work to make it by. To me being white meant to be well-off, to have extra money spend however one pleases. Taylor didn’t fit that stereotype. He grew up in rural Minnesota and was raised by his mom, a local school teacher. With Taylor, I realized income diversity is less visible but equally important. I felt closer to a poor white kid than I did to the well-off black kids. Despite the different environments in which we grew up, we both knew what it was like to go to a restaurant with friends and fret about the check. Our shared experience of having to work through school so we could play rugby brought us closer together than race. Dartmouth, like many schools, addressed diversity by looking at something visible like race, as well they should. As one of two black students on a rugby team of sixty white players, I forced many of my teanmiates, just by my presence, to confront a lot of assumptions they had about what it meant to be black. Sports had a way of unifying us despite of our racial differences. But for me, the most salient basis of segregation continued to be class and not race. Income invariably played an insidious sinister role, imbuing assumptions into one’s psyche and creating social divisions that were very difficult, if not impossible, to permeate. One need not be a bigot in order to stray into bias. As an African and first generation American with working-class roots in the Bronx, I believe that I am particularly sensitive to all the critical forms of diversity and the way they overlap and inform each other. bring that knowledge to class every day.
2012-2013 Fellowship Address As we prepare to enter into the PreProBono Fellowship’s final stretch as Senior Fellows, instructing and coordinating the the 2013 Fellowship, it’s hard to believe that just a year ago we were in their position. The PreProBono Fellowship succeeded in broadening our perspective of and deepening our commitment to the world of public interest law, all the while empowering us to become a part of it. Along the way, we found allies within our class, a group of like-minded individuals that were dedicated to wielding the power of law for Good. In retrospect, this seems the most important part of the Fellowship: the creation of a community of people who want to make the world a better place. The long hours of instruction served as the key to unlock our potential to score well on the LSAT, but the long-term takeaway from the program was the people we were introduced to—the PreProBono faculty, the various engaging and talented keynote speakers, and of course the other Fellows. The intimacy of the program fostered a true familial feeling and we were happy returning to further the mission of PreProBono. Although our first PreProBono summer was over, our commitment to the organization was not. We volunteered our time and efforts to help run weekend LSAT prep programs because we believe in the goals of PreProBono: to promote public interest law and open up access to legal education for all. Each of the different Fellows contributed where their skills best allowed them to: coordinating the
logistics, assisting individuals, and teaching the classes themselves. Throughout the year, we taught at institutions such as NYU, Columbia, Hunter, Fordham, and Harvard. We delivered 20 hours of free LSAT instruction to everyone who wanted it, and plenty of people did. Class sizes swelled to nearly 50 sometimes, but we did our best to deliver education to those who craved it, pushing the broad mission of PreProBono forward. We learned how to give back with what was given to us. The 2013 Fellowship allows us the opportunity to help the next group of Fellows in the same way the 2011 Fellowship helped us. PreProBono builds upon itself with each iteration and, as proud 2012 PreProBono Fellows, we are committed to ensuring that the next generation becomes ever better and ever brighter. Last year’s Fellows experienced great success from their LSAT instruction, jumping 38.5 percentile points on average, with the vast majority of Fellows scoring in the 80th and 90th percentiles. These successes, coupled with the admissions counseling from the PPB faculty, enabled Fellows to gain admission to top law schools including the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, Fordham, Georgetown, Berkeley and Harvard. In 2013, we aim to do even better.
~ Dami & Justin 2012 Fellows, 2013 Senior Fellows
â€œI consider the rights granted to us by the US Constitution to be fundamental, and my goal is to ensure that these civil liberties are preserved and equally extended to all.â€?
Alina Artunian Alina Artunian is a rising senior at Hunter College, majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Constitutional Law. Although she was born in Moscow, Russia, it took her 18 years and a minor in Russian and Slavic Studies to finally learn how to read and write in Russian. Alina is involved in numerous pre-law events at Hunter College, all of which have confirmed her interest in being a lawyer. She is the founder of the Moot Court team, an activity that exposed her to the wonderful world of appellate law, as well as the secretary of the Pre-Law Society at Hunter. Her life goal is to have (and take) the opportunity to argue a case before the Supreme Court. She became interested in PreProBono after an awesome weekend program at Hunter College, and is currently a 2013 PreProBono Fellow (and loving it!).
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â€œI consider law school to be a route where I can leverage my abilities to make a global impact and improve lives.
AllyChiu Ally Chiu recently graduated with a Bachelorâ€™s in Arts from New York University, where she majored in Global Liberal Studies and East Asian Studies and minored in French. She grew up in Midland, Texas and spent her freshman year of undergraduate studies in Paris, France. Her junior year was spent in Shanghai, China, where she developed the inspiration to write her senior thesis titled Internet & Society: How Chinese Netizens are Seeking Social Justice. Her international experiences have informed her passion in pursuing public interest and socially-minded goals.
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“Paulo Freire wrote that the ‘oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.’I seek to empower the oppressed through increased access to legal services, allowing them to fight for their own justice.”
Melissa Vallejo Melissa Vallejo is a recent Columbia University graduate who majored in Political Science and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She has lived in New York, Miami, and Ecuador.
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Her academic life has been colored by her work with Community Impact and the Greater New York Hospital Association. As part of Community Impact, she has helped others navigate the benefits system while shedding hours they would have to miss otherwise looking for information, applying and being interviewed. Her work with the Greater New York Hospital Association has allowed her to help social workers and case managers provide connections for uninsured and low-income individuals in the New York community. As the daughter of a single working immigrant father, she hopes to continue the same course she has already started to pursue, acting as a bridge for information and helping individuals in need gain access to affordable, quality legal services.
â€œI want to help provide more access to new perspectives and knowledge across cultures that enable people to be more open-minded and cooperative.â€?
MinjaeKim Minjae Kim recently graduated from New York University with majors in History and East Asian Studies, as well as a minor in French. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in South Korea, Japan, and the United States. She discovered PreProBono when she attended a weekend program at NYU and has since become an enthusiastic part of the PreProBono family, relishing the opportunities to learn and network with like-minded fellows and accomplished lawyers. She hopes to someday make lasting positive impact working either in international law or constitutional law.
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“Understanding the legal language, a language inaccessible to the underprivileged, will enable me to mobilize change in a way that contributes to a sustainable cycle of empowerment.”
Stephanie Fernandez Born and raised in New York City, Stephanie Fernandez is a now rising senior at Barnard College. Stephanie’s passion for social justice and equality issues have led her to pursue a law degree. Her interest in pursuing a career in public service emerges from volunteering with Community Impact’s Advocacy Coalition (a poverty alleviation organization), working on college-readiness programs for inner-city youth, and previously interning at the White House. In the Fellowship, she is ecstatic to find herself surrounded by other inspiring fellows who similarly aspire to attend law school in order to change systematic injustices and do real good.
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This upcoming year she will be involved with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund working on mentoring initiatives, serving as Senior Class President in the Student Government Association, and diligently studying for her LSATs with the tremendous help of PreProBono.
“I will leverage my legal education to ensure that all of America’s children will have access to a public education that will equip them to confidently pursue their dreams and passionately drive America’s 21st century global competitiveness.”
StephenFord Stephen comes to PrepProBono from Teach for America, a national service program committed to eliminating educational inequity. At Teach For America, he led regional efforts on the Growth, Strategy, and Development Team to bring more math and science teachers to Rhode Island’s highest need public schools. Prior to his work at Teach For America, Stephen was a founding educator at Blackstone Valley Prep, a high-expectations, highpoverty public school where he led district-wide science and literacy curriculum design teams. His work helped the school become the first institution in Rhode Island’s history to achieve 100% student proficiency on the state literacy assessment.
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Stephen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brown University, and studied international politics as a Presidential Scholar at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He is originally from Newark, New Jersey, and he currently resides in South Orange, New Jersey.